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Chest Pain

Chest pain is discomfort in the chest including a dull ache, a crushing or burning feeling, a sharp stabbing pain, and pain that radiates to the neck or shoulder.

Chest pain is not something to ignore. But it has many possible causes, and may not necessarily be serious or life threatening.

While chest pain is a well established sign of a heart attack, it can also be caused by many other less serious conditions such as problems in lungsesophagus, muscles, ribs, or nerves. Some of these conditions are serious and life threatening, while others are not.


If you have a chest pain, the only way to confirm it's cause and proper treatment is to have a doctor evaluate you.

Chest Pain Doctor Heart and Vascular Consultants in Detroit and Livonia Michigan


While chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart problem, some people may experience one or more other symptoms, with or without chest pain. Women, in particular, have reported unusual symptoms that later have been identified as being the result of a heart problem:

When to Call 911 or to see a doctor

If you have chest pain that doesn't go away, you need to see your doctor ASAP for evaluation. Even if your chest pain that isn't caused by heart disease, it could be a warning sign of other problems in the aorta (the large blood vessel that leads out of the heart), the lungs, or digestive organs.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Mild chest pain or discomfort, and you're responsible for the lives of others (such as a pilot, bus driver, or sole caregiver for small children).

  • Chest pain that isn't relieved with medicine, happens with less activity, or happens at rest when it used to come when you did activity.

  • Chest pain or discomfort for the first time with symptoms similar to those of coronary artery disease.

Let your doctor know if you have:

  • A history of chest pain or discomfort caused by coronary artery disease (angina).

  • One or more risk factors for heart disease.

  • A family history of sudden death from heart attack.


Call 911 if you have heart attack symptoms that last longer than 5 minutes.

Always seek emergency care right away if you think you're having a heart attack. Don't wait to see if it passes.

Don't drive yourself to the emergency room if you think you're having a heart attack.

If an ambulance can't come immediately, have someone drive you to the emergency room.

Call 911 or other emergency services if you have chest pain that is crushing or squeezing and comes with any of the following symptoms:

  • Sweating

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Pain that spreads from the chest to the neck, jaw, or one or both shoulders or arms

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Fast or irregular pulse

  • Signs of shock (such as severe weakness or inability to stand or walk)

After calling 911 or other emergency services, chew and swallow 1 adult aspirin (325 milligrams), as long as you're not allergic to aspirin or unable to take it for some other reason.

Call 911 or other emergency services if you are caring for someone you think has had a heart attack. If the person is alert, he or she should chew and swallow 1 adult aspirin, as long as he or she is not allergic to aspirin or unable to take it for some other reason.

If the person becomes unconscious and stops breathing, perform CPR.


Heart-related causes of chest pain:

  • Heart attack, which is a blockage of blood flow to the heart

  • Angina, which is chest pain caused by blockages in the blood vessels leading to your heart

  • Pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the sac around the heart

  • Myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle

  • Cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle

  • Aortic dissection, which is a rare condition involving a tear of the aorta, the large vessel that comes off of the heart

Lung-related causes of chest pain:

Muscle or bone-related causes of chest pain:

Gastrointestinal causes of chest pain:

Other causes of chest pain:



Risk Factors


Some risk factors of chest pain include:

  • Age (the incidence of an infarction is multiplied by five between 40 and 60 years).

  • Elevated levels of lipids in the blood (especially cholesterol).

  • Hypertension.

  • Diabetes.

  • Smoking.

  • Physical inactivity.

  • Obesity, especially abdominal obesity.

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